Researchers at the microscope in the cell lab


We offer cancer patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. This allows patients to actively participate in the progress of cancer treatments and benefit from additional quality control by the study team and the ethics committee. Clinical trials also allow access to the latest drugs.

Here you can find information about our research:

The therapies of tomorrow come from the studies of today!

We offer our patients the opportunity to take part in clinical studies. This assures you that you will be treated in accordance with the latest scientific findings and the highest quality standards. Our range of studies is very broad and extends from quality of life assessment and therapy support measures to new therapeutic approaches and promising drugs for various types of cancer.

Your oncology doctor will be happy to help you further. However, if no trial is suitable for you at the moment, it is possible that a suitable trial will be open for you at a later stage of your treatment.

Yes, participation in any study is completely and exclusively voluntary. Only decide whether you want to take part once all your questions have been answered and you are sure. If you decide not to take part in a study, this will not affect your further treatment.

As a rule, you will continue to be cared for by your previous doctor during your participation in the study. You may also get to know the doctor responsible for the study at the university hospital. You may also have contact with the study team.

No! Every study is reviewed by the Basel Ethics Committee( before it is conducted. The aim of this independent review is to ensure that no patient is exposed to unnecessary risks. Since every treatment (within and outside of studies) can be associated with risks/side effects, you will be informed in detail about possible risks. Weigh up for yourself whether the risk/benefit ratio is right for you personally before you decide to undergo treatment.

No. The costs for the treatment that you would have received outside the study (standard therapy) will be charged to your health insurance as usual. Additional costs caused by participation in the study will not be charged.

Yes, you can discontinue your participation in the study at any time without giving a reason. Withdrawing from the study has no influence on your further treatment in oncology.

First find out whether there is a suitable study for you by contacting the study team yourself or your doctor: PD Dr. Dr. Sacha Rothschild or Céline Jenni . There are studies that can only be carried out at the University Hospital. This would mean that you would have to transfer your treatment to the university hospital for the duration of your participation in the study. At the end of the study, you will continue to be cared for by your previous doctor.

Immune modulation and cancer: implications for novel cancer therapies

It is increasingly appreciated that cancers are recognized by the immune system, and under some circumstances, the immune system may control or even eliminate tumors.

Only recently, this concept has been reinvigorated by large clinical trials, demonstrating improved overall survival and, importantly, durable responses. This success has provided clear evidence that anti-tumor immunotherapy has broad efficacy across a diverse spectrum of malignancies owing to its potential for a large and sustained clinical benefit. Exciting perspectives to increase efficacy include combination therapies with targeted therapies and cytotoxic agents. Of particular note, both may modulate immune responses and augment host immunity. For example, selected agents increase the immunogenicity of dying cancer cells, inhibit the function of locally immuno-suppressive populations trigger DC maturation.

We investigate mechanisms of anti-tumor immunity in a variety of different mouse models including immunocompetent syngeneic and genetically modified tumor models engineered to carry mutations in genes known to be involved in human cancers. These models offer the platform to experimentally perturb the tumor microenvironment, using different anti-tumor agents and provide increased information on their immunostimulating effects, which are currently poorly defined. The aim of our research is to improve our understanding of the immuno-modulating capacities of anti-cancer therapies and pave the way for a rationale design of treatment algorithms combining anti-tumor agents with immunotherapy.

The focus lies on the investigation and development of treatment strategies, targets and delivery platforms in early trials in medical oncology.

In collaboration with the Clinical Research Center (CCRC) at our division, we have programs ongoing to create a pipeline of agents that can move into the clinic. In translational projects, we aim at defining predictors of therapeutic responses and at understanding the mechanism of treatment responses and resistance and thereby defining potential new targets for cancer immunotherapy. The programs include cancer vaccines, immune modulatory drugs, monoclonal antibodies, and nanoparticles such as immunoliposomes.

In collaboration with the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine (Prof. Wild), a program is centred on radiopeptides against peptide receptors. To optimally develop novel anti-cancer agents such as immunotherapeutics we perform in-vitro assays to study how these compounds modulate human effector populations in freshly excised tumor tissue, thus faithfully mimicking the situation found in cancer patients. This program is performed in collaboration with the Department of Thoracic Surgery (Prof. Lardinois), Department of Gynecology (Prof. Heinzelmann) and Pathology (Prof. Bubendorf, Prof. Dirnhofer).

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Research Group Leader


Prof. Alfred Zippelius


Medizinische Onkologie FMH, Mitglied Tumorzentrum, Leiter Labor Tumorimmunologie

Hauttumore, Thoraxtumore, Immuntherapie

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Lab members


Dr. Maryam Akramisomeabozorg


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Mélanie Buchi

Lab Technician

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Irene Fusi

PhD student

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Petra Herzig

Lab Manager

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Nicole Oelgarth

PhD student

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Dr. Asmita Pant


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Elisa Preto

PhD student

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Clara Serger

PhD student

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Dr. Xiaoyun Li


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Dr. Thanh Thuy Luu


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Fürst , Jonas

Jonas Fürst

PhD student

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Tundo, Sofia

Sofia Tundo

PhD student

University Hospital Basel

  • Pathology
    Prof. Dr. med. Bubendorf
    Prof. Dr. med. Dirnhofer
    Dr. med. Savic
  • Thoracic Surgery
    Prof. Dr. med. Lardinois
  • Women's Clinic
    Prof. Dr. med. Heinzelmann

University of Basel

  • Prof. Dr. med. Christoph Hess
    Immunobiology, Department of Biomedicine

  • Prof. Dr. med. Daniel Pinschewer
    Experimental Virology, Department of Biomedicine

National academic collaborations

  • Prof. Dr. med. Kirsten Mertz
    Institute of Pathology and Department of Visceral Surgery, Liestal
  • Prof. Dr. med. Robert Rosenberg
    Institute of Pathology and Department of Visceral Surgery, Liestal
  • Prof. Dr. Sai Reddy
    Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, ETH Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. Ping-Chi Ho
    Department of Fundamental Oncology, UNIL Lausanne
  • Prof. Dr. Steinmetz
    Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen

International academic collaborations

  • Prof. Dr. med. Lothar Tietze
    Pathology, Lahr-Ettenheim (Germany)
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Rader
    Department of Cancer Biology, Scripps Research Institute Florida (USA)
  • Prof. Dr. Zlatko Trojanoski
    Institute of Bioinformatics, Medical University of Innsbruck (Austria)

  • Gillian Griffiths
    Camebridge Institute for Medical Research (UK)

  • Eric Vivier
    Marseille Université (France)

Industrial collaborations

National & International

  • F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Basel, Switzerland
  • MedImmune, Cambridge, UK
  • T3 Pharma, Allschwil, Switzerland
  • Bright Peak Therapeutics, Basel, Switzerland
  • Vector BioPharma , Basel, Switzerland

Recent Articles and Reviews 2023

  • Deletion of SNX9 alleviates CD8 T cell exhaustion for effective cellular cancer immunotherapy.

    Trefny MP, Kirchhammer N, Auf der Maur P, Natoli M, Schmid D, Germann M, Fernandez Rodriguez L, Herzig P, Lötscher J, Akrami M, Stinchcombe JC, Stanczak MA, Zingg A, Buchi M, Roux J, Marone R, Don L, Lardinois D, Wiese M, Jeker LT, Bentires-Alj M, Rossy J, Thommen DS, Griffiths GM, Läubli H, Hess C, Zippelius A. Nat Commun. 2023 Feb 2;14(1):86. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-35583-w. PMID: 36732507

Recent Articles and Reviews 2022

Recent Articles and Reviews 2021

  • Voabil P, de Bruijn M, Roelofsen L, Hendriks S, Brokamp S, van den Braber M, Broeks A, Sanders J, Herzig P, Zippelius A, Blank C, Hartemink K, Monkhorst K, Haanen J, Schumacher T, Thommen D. An ex vivo tumor fragment platform to dissect response to PD-1 blockade in cancer. Nature Medicine.(2021),
  • Bonilla W, Kirchhammer N, Marx A, Kallert S, Krzyzaniak M, Lu M, Darbre S, Schmidt S, Raguz J,Berka U, Vincenti I, Pauzuolis M, Kerber R, Hoepner S, Günther S, Magnus C, Merkler D, Orlinger K, Zippelius A, Pinschewer D. Heterologous arenavirus vectorprime-boost overrules self-tolerancefor efficient tumor-specific CD8 T cell attack. Cell Reports Medicine.(2021),
  • Brücher D, Kirchhammer N, Smith S, SchumacherJ, Schumacher N, Kolibius J, Freitag P, Schmid M, Weiss F, Keller C, GroveM, Greber U, Zippelius A, Plückthun A. iMATCH: an integrated modular assemblysystem for therapeutic combinationhigh-capacity adenovirus gene therapy. Molecular Therapy. (2021),
  • Trüb M, Zippelius A. Tertiary Lymphoid Structures as a Predictive Biomarker of Response to Cancer Immunotherapies. Front Immunol.(2021), doi:10.3389/fimmu.2021.674565
  • Natoli M, Herzig P, Pishali Bejestani E, Buchi M, Ritschard R, Kenneth Lloyd G, Mohanlal R, Tonra J, Huang L, Heinzelmann V, Trüb M, Zippelius A, Kashyap A. Plinabulin, a Distinct Microtubule-Targeting Chemotherapy, Promotes M1-Like Macrophage Polarization and Anti-tumor Immunity. Front. Oncol. (2021), doi: 10.3389/fonc.2021.644608

Laboratory of Cancer Immunology
Department of Biomedicine
Hebelstrasse 20
4031 Basel

Phone +41 61 265 23 55

  • Monique Dornonville de la Cour
  • Swiss National Science Foundation
  • Fondazione San Salvatore
  • Cancer League of both Basel
  • Swiss Cancer League
  • Sassella Foundation
  • Research Fund of the University of Basel
  • Immunotherapy Foundation (USB)
  • Innovation Focus Cellular Therapy

We would like to thank the present and past funders of our lab!

Leyla Don
Laboratory Technician until October 2023
Now: Research Associate - Novartis, Basel

Dr. Markus Germann
PostDoc until June 2023
Now: PostDoc - Roche, Basel

Dr. Laura Fernandez Rodriguez
PostDoc until February 2023

Dr. Marcel Trefny
PostDoc until November 2022
Now: PostDoc - LMU, Kobold Lab, Munich

Dr. Marina Natoli
PostDoc until August 2022
Now: Senior Scientist - Astra Zeneca, Camebridge

Claudia Gärtner-Pelham
Laboratory Technician until May 2022
Now: unknown

Dr. Nicole Kirchhammer
PostDoc until January 2022
Now: Associate Director Immunology - Vector Biopharma

Dr. Marta Trüb
PostDoc until August 2021
Now: Group Leader and Associate Director - Numab Therapeutics AG, Wädenswil

Dr. Yang Liu
PostDoc until January 2021
Now: Scientist - Novartis Switzerland

Beatrice Dolder-Schlienger
Laboratory Technician until December 2020
Now: Retired

Dr. Abhishek Kashyap
Project leader until May 2020
Now: Director - Cancer Immunology and Immune Modulation, Boehringer Ingelheim

Florian Rosentreter
Technician until February 2020
Now: Technician - Roche Basel

Dr. Elham Pishali
PostDoc until January 2020
Now: Investigator - Translational Medicine, Novartis Basel

Dr. Daniela Thommen
PostDoc until April 2018
Now: Junior Group Leader - The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam

Dr. Lucia D'Amico
PostDoc until March 2018
Now: Head of Laboratory - TargImmune Therapeutics, Basel

Dr. Sandra Kallert
PostDoc until January 2018
Now: Principal Scientist - Oncology Translational Research, Novartis Basel

Dr. Michal Stanczak
PhD student until 2018
Now: PostDoc - Max Planck Institute of Immunology and Epigenetics, Germany

Dr. Franziska Uhlenbrock
PostDoc until December 2017
Now: Senior Scientist - Symphogen, Denmark

Dr. Philipp Müller
Labhead until March 2016
Now: Executive Director/Investment Manager - Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Germany

Dr. Jens Schreiner
Postdoc until 2016
Now: Specialist FAMH for Immunology - Unilabs, Zurich

Dr. Matthias Kreuzaler
PostDoc until October 2015
Now: PostDoc - Intitute for Infection Biology, University Hospital Basel

Dr. Narasimha Rao Uda
PostDoc until December 2015
Now: Senior Research Associate - University of Geneva

Dr. Kea Martin
PhD student until June 2015
Now: Scientist - Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals, Basel

Dr. Sébastien Wieckowski
PostDoc until 2015
Now: Senior Scientist - School of Life Sciences, Roche Basel

Targeting glycans to improve anti-cancer immunity
Our main goal is to improve immunotherapy for cancer patients by using translational in vitro and in vivo tumor models, performing correlative analysis of patients treated with immunotherapy and conducting early clinical interventional trials (also see link to Medical Oncology).

One of our research focus is on the role of glycans and glycan-binding receptors in anti-cancer immunity. Glycans can mediate important interactions with immune cells and manipulation of glycans and glycan-binding receptors (lectins) bear a great potential to improve anti-tumor immune reactions. Glycan-mediated interactions in cancer immunology are significantly underexplored and could be used to improve anti-cancer immunity. Our group has studied the interaction between glycans that contain sialic acids (siaologlycans) and their interaction with Siglec receptors on immune cells and have demonstrated that this pathway can be targeted to augment T cell stimulation and tumor control. Current goals include improvement of cancer immunotherapy by modifying glycans in the tumor microenvironment and glycans of cellular products for adoptive cell therapies including genetically modified T cells.

An additional focus of our group is the improvement of immune checkpoint blockade and adoptive cellular therapies by investigating mechanisms and patterns of resistance to these therapies. To this end, we are investigating the tumor microenvironment as well as circulating immune cells in patients undergoing immune checkpoint blockade or adoptive T cell transfer. Identified pathways are further studied in the laboratory for their potential as new targets to improve antitumor immune responses.

Cellular therapy for solid cancers
Adoptive cell therapy with TILs (tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes) for melanoma patients have been developed several years ago at the NIH. Clinical trials have shown high and very encouraging response rates depending on the stage and selection of patients. We have established and expansion protocol for the treatment of melanoma patient refractory to standard immune therapy with checkpoint inhibitors (and BRAF/MEK inhibition in BRAF mutated patients).

Our first planned clinical trial includes an adapted classical expansion protocol and the application of IL-2 after the adoptive TIL transfer. In addition, we will perform a PD-1 blockade after stopping IL-2 treatment to render the tumor microenvironment more permissive for tumor-attacking T cells.

Our program will enable us to expand this treatment option to other tumor types. In addition, we are working to improve the expansion protocols and the specific expansion of tumor-recognizing T cells. Finally, the program will also allow for a direct translation of new genitically-modified T cell therapies into early clincical trials

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Research Group Leader


Prof. Heinz Läubli

Leitender Arzt / Leitung Klinische Forschung

medizinische Onkologie FMH, allgemeine Innere Medizin FMH, Mitglied Tumorzentrum, Forschungsgruppenleiter Tumorimmuntherapie, DBM und DKF 

Hirntumore, Hauttumore, Thoraxtumore, Immuntherapie

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Lab members


Dr. Filip Filipsky


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Dr. David König

Oberarzt / Leitung Klinische Forschung

medizinische Onkologie FMH, allgemeine Innere Medizin FMH, Leitung klinische Forschung

Leiter Zentrum für Lungentumore

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Dr. Luana Frias Guerra


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Jessica Häusel


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Rafael Lopes

PhD Student

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Dr. Takeo Maeda


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Johanna Nimmerfroh

PhD Student

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Aleksandra Nonic


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Reto Ritschard

Head of Production

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Dr. Natalia Rodrigues Mantuano

Project Leader

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Michael Sandholzer

PhD Student

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Helen Thut

GMP Laboratory Coordinator

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Andreas Zingg

PhD Student

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Research group of Prof. Viviane Hess

The aim of the research group is to optimize drug-based cancer therapies. Interdisciplinary studies focus on research questions that are relevant to affected patients and their relatives:

  • Can side effects be reduced through supportive measures?
  • Are there groups of patients who specifically benefit from a therapy (clinical characteristics, biomarkers)?
  • How do patients themselves assess the benefits of a therapy (patient-reported outcomes)?

Supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF-FP PP00P3_139155/1), the group is investigating the question of whether non-drug interventions can improve the effect of chemotherapy. This is being investigated prospectively in three studies:

A web-based stress management program for newly diagnosed cancer patients( A randomized, waitlist-controlled trial.

Team: Corinne Urech, Astrid Grossert, Sandra Scherer, Judith Alder, Jens Gaab, Thomas Berger, Viviane Hess


Supported by Cancer Research Switzerland

Stress, physical activity and survival in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme and their partners (TOGETHER): A prospective, multicenter cohort study.

Team: Katrin Conen, Regula Schüpbach, Mira Katan, Mirjam Christ-Crain, Katharina Rentsch, Ralf Bayreu, Viviane Hess

Centers: USB, University Hospital Zurich (M. Weller), Cantonal Hospital Lucerne (S. Hofer)

Supported by Cancer Research Switzerland

Impact of a structured exercise program during chemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed advanced colorectal cancer on tumor control and symptoms: a randomized trial. ACTIVE-2/SAKK 41/1

Team: Benjamin Kasenda, Barbara Handschin, Ralph Winterhalder, Ruud Knols, Jacques Hochstrasser, Peter Suter, Josef Thaler, Karin Ribi, Catherine Berset, Martin Bigler and SAKK CC. Translational team: Cathrin Balmelli, Christoph Berger, Andreas Wicki, Reto Ritschard and Viviane Hess

Centers: approx. 20 centers in Switzerland, Austria (AGMT).

This study is being conducted with the Swiss. Arbeitsgemeinschaft für klinische Krebsforschung (SAKK) and supported by the SNSF, Nora Van Meuven Foundation, Department of Medicine of the USB



Prof. Dr. Viviane Hess

Leitende Ärztin

FMH Innere Medizin, FMH Medizinische Onkologie

Medizinische Zentren Bauchtumorzentrum

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